Your National Negotiating Team (NNT) have met twice with Qantas since our last bulletin, on 28th April and 11 May 2016.
At our last meeting we finally talked about the wage freeze. Qantas says their key claim is the wage freeze.
In their 2nd and 3rd Qantas bulletins to staff covered by the ASU EBA which were released on 10th and 30 March 2016, Qantas described the wage freeze in their FAQs as follows:
“What exactly is the wage freeze?
The wage freeze is an 18 month period of time that needs to pass with no scheduled increases to wages. It is measured from the last annual wage increase. In the case of the current ASU agreement, the last 3% wage increase occurred on 1 July 2015”.
Qantas also said in the FAQs in both bulletins:
“If the agreement includes the wage freeze will I get a 5 per cent bonus?
Any employee that is covered by an agreement that is implemented with the 18 month wage freeze will be eligible for a one-off 5% bonus. About $50 million has already been paid to employees who have signed up to agreements that include the freeze”.
Based on two of Qantas’ own bulletins to staff the proposed wage freeze would be until 1 January 2017 and a 5% bonus would be payable.
Apparently despite saying this TWICE, they did not mean that at all.
What changed between 30 March and now?
When questioned about how they saw the wage freeze operating, Qantas now says the 18 month wage freeze starts from the expiry of the current agreement (i.e. 30 June 2016) and so any pay rise would be payable on 1 January 2018. 12 months later than they said on 10th and 30th March 2016.
Also now Qantas is not so clear about the 5% bonus – it is not guaranteed to be paid if you take a wage freeze as their previous FAQs said.
Now in our discussions they use weasel words like “discretionary” and say that the 5% bonus is not part of the offer and it will only be paid if there is no “harm” to Qantas – whatever that means!
You will notice they do not mention the bonus at all in their latest communication.
We are not confused
In their last bulletin (No.6) Qantas says there has been some confusion about the wage freeze… We weren’t confused we knew what they said in March 2016 in writing to everyone TWICE – it is Qantas that has changed its mind for no apparent reason – both on the operation of the wage freeze and the bonus and they have now tried to “spin” it to you as “confusion”.
If they made a mistake why not own up to it instead of “pretending” somehow it was our fault.
What we do know is that since announcing a wage freeze in late 2013, what the “freeze” meant has changed at least 3 times. First it was an indefinite freeze, then an 18 month freeze and then an 18 month freeze with a 5% bonus.
We also know the company wrote a massive half year profit and ASU ranks were the hardest hit for redundancies in the transformation.
It is hard to trust the company when they say one thing and mean another and members are right to be angry about being misled. You can judge all their future bulletins by the way they twist the truth as we have highlighted above.
Meanwhile… on our other claims
We continued to argue vigorously for our other claims and we have systematically addressed our claims in a professional and clear way. We have started discussions about the Senior Professional Group pay scheme and future discussions are planned.
Qantas claims – some responses
We have provided a range of responses to Qantas’ claims and have asked for more information on a number of issues. We made the following points:
- Extended cashing out of Days in lieu and annual leave may well lead to the inability to take leave and members are telling us you want time off so we see no merit in agreeing to cashing out these vital entitlements. The provision for payout of DILs already means shift workers get less days off than day workers who get public holidays.
- The problem with flexible work agreements is not the ASU oversight of them it is the fact the company does not deal with them fairly for those who need them.
- Most day workers get at least 12 hours break between work days – why isn’t this a standard that everyone can have – we have it in Perth for shift workers – why should that standard be reduced?
We don’t think the responses to these issues are unreasonable.
Our next meeting is on 26th May we expect to revisit the SPG claims and get further responses to our claims from Qantas.